The available tax data allows us to see what some of the key players at HRC are getting paid. However, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions about where the bulk of the money reported as compensation expense is going.
The data for this article was taken from the IRS form 990 filed by HRC, Inc. for the year 2008. The entire form can be viewed at this link.
HRC, Inc is the only one of the three companies that is reporting compensation expense, so it appears that all staff are managed from there.
The summary income statement reports a total compensation expense of ,540,658. This outlay represents 30% of their total revenue for the year. That makes it their single most significant expense category. They are required to provide specific disclosure of compensation for certain key and highly compensated employees. Here is the information provided in that disclosure.
That leaves quite a lot of compensation expense unaccounted for. In the more detailed income statement that is required in another part of the form they report a lump figure of ,604,722 for other salaries and wages. There is no further detail as to what is included in that figure.
Looking at the staff page on the HRC web site which appears here:
We see a total of 33 people listed by name. Of course this information is for 2010 rather than 2008. One assumes that there are other people performing more menial duties such as receptionist, accounting clerks, etc. I haven't been able to find any information about the total number of employees.
So what do we make of this 6.6 million dollars? If this were all about people who are getting paid less than the 6 figure crowd listed above we could try assuming an average salary of k. At that rate it would take troops of about 130 additional people to cover that amount. Does it take that many people to put out the hors d'oeuvres for the cocktail parties?
A very basic index for evaluating charitable organizations is the percentage of the donated funds that actually go to supporting the activities for which they were donated as opposed going to the cost of raising the funds and administrative overhead. This is an area that the IRS focuses on. They require two major pieces of reporting, the cost of contracts with professional fund raisers and the cost of fund raising events.
Here is HRC's data for the professional fundraisers.
The email and direct mail solicitations appear to have been fairly efficient. However, the member acquisition endeavors would seem to leave a bit to be desired. The caper with Telefund, Inc. looks like a real dog.
Here is the summary statement for their fundraising events. This would include the dinners and cocktail parties.
That represents about a 50% net income on cost outlays. I would not be inclined to raise any questions about that relationship.
There was one other large reported expense that I found interesting. They spent ,123,902 attending conferences and meetings. That sounds like an awful lot of boring speeches to listen to. Without more detailed information it would be difficult to really evaluate that.
The next installment in the series will examine political contributions.
For the past 30 years the Human Rights Campaign has been presenting itself as the official voice of Gay America. It has developed the ability to raise very substancial financial contributions from LGBT Americans and their friends and allies. This is the first installment in a series of articles that will examine that money. It will look at what it is being spent on and most importantly just what results are being accomplished with it.
HRC has followed a very deliberate marketing and political strategy of presenting the gay community as mainstream middle class Americans with an above average level of disposable income. They have aggressively pursued the cult of Washington beltway political insiders. They would have us believe that our money is buying political clout and influence. Their organizational style is characterized by glitzy fund raising dinners featuring political and entertainment celebrities.
Influencing the politicians with decolletage:
HRC is a web of interlocking corporations with different boards of directors. On its tax forms it lists over 20 related organizations in addition to its three main operating units. Most of these are state level political action committees or PACs which it has incorporated separately. The three principal operating corporations are:
Human Rights Campaign, Inc.
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
Human Rights Campaign PAC
These are all registered with the IRS as nonprofit corporations. As such they are required to make annual filings of their financial activities. These documents are available online. This series will be using the data from the reports for 2008 which is the latest available year.
HRC Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 corp.
HRC, Inc. is a 501 ( c ) 4 corp.
HRC PAC is a 527 corp.
These three categories progressively increase in the level of political activity that they are permitted to engage in under the tax laws.
Since 2005 the HRC empire has operated under the leadership of Joe Solmonese.
According to the reports that they filed with the IRS this is the money that HRC took in in 2008.
Now when you compare this with the kind of money that gets tossed around on Wall St. this might not look like such a big deal. However, for most of us in the LGBT community 42 million dollars qualifies as big money. All of us can think of many practical things that could be accomplished with it. This series is going to take a close look at what HRC did with this money and then ask some questions about just what they have accomplished.
Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.
For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.
After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.
But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.
As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.
After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”
But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.
“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”
Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.
“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.
Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”
“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”
Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.
Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.
The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.
Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.
“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”
Through thick and thin
This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.
Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.
At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.
In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”
“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”
Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.
This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.
The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.
“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’
“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.
Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.
Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.
Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.
When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.
In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.
Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.
When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.
That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.
Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.
Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.
Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.
But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.
“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”